I know a few days ago I was ‘obsessed’ with TimeLove but there is another local artist deserving of my attention right now as well. That artist would be Eric Ayotte. The Plan-It-X, DIY folk artist landed in Bloomington about two years ago, and between working with Rhino’s Youth Center, film contests/festivals, and performing, it already feels like he’s been here forever.
I recently picked up his album Wavering this week and it just made me feel inspired, and I realized that every time I hear his music I feel that way. It’s like suddenly I feel this empowerment to DO something, to make a difference. You see, Eric Ayotte is so much more than just a folk artist or singer songwriter. He has this amazing gift in the words he writes and the voice from which he delivers those words to really grab that part of you heart, your mind, your life that says “WAKE UP, look at the world for what it truly is”. I’d assume its a combination of the passion he shares for the causes and issues he supports pouring out in his songs, his personal experience, and natural talent, but Ayotte is an artist that always leaves me amazed that I am still standing after hearing his music.
I still remember the first time I saw him perform. It was a few weeks after he’d moved to Bloomington from New York. He played a house show with one of my favorite bands Good Luck. Since we’d all been watching Mall Rats in the living room prior to the shows start, he just found a space in the middle of the sitting crowd, picked up his guitar and started playing. I was instantly drawn to the tone of his voice. It’s hard to describe. There is a certain rural twang to it, and a solemn steadiness that calms the room and attracts a listener from a mile away. But then there is the controlled passion that also sneaks up out of nowhere and kind of stings you. It’s like you can’t turn away (not that you would want to), but you are just left paralyzed and drawn to the words. I never feel overwhelmed, but more like I am taking it all in, the wonderful music and every detail of the lyrics.
The song that struck me in this way was “Monuments to Accidents” (now titled “Roadside Crosses”) from his 2009 self-titled ep. He introduced the song as a dedication to a friend he’d lost in a drunk driving accident, and as the song unfolded, it was clear that the song was so much more than an homage. It was a lesson; a message, an opinion. I just remember feeling like I’d been changed after listening to it, and I still feel that way when I hear the song today.
Opening up with my new favorite “Autobiographer”, Wavering is a great album of songs about real life, everyday choices and thoughts, and the opportunity we all have to inspire and act toward change. Some songs are more specific with ideas about war, hometowns, and self-reflection; but all are worthy of a concentrated listen. Despite the minimal nature of the songs (most are vocals and guitar only), every song feels fresh. Ayotte has a real talent for expressing his ideas without them sounding overdone, dry, or forced. My favorite tracks would have to be “Autobiographer”, “Fallujah”, and “Make It Better”.
Music critics and fans often ask ‘Where are the powerful, influential songwriters of our time?’ I fully believe that Eric Ayotte is one of them and I look forward to listening to and being inspired by his words for many years to come.
Bonus: Eric Ayotte’s cover of K’naan’s “Wavin’ the Flag”